The 6 Best Photographers Hiking the PCT Right Now

No indulgent selfies or boring landscapes here. These Instagram accounts showcase the trail like you've never seen it before.

Jul 14, 2016
Outside Magazine
pacific crest trail

Thru-hikers are the PCT's best photographers.    Photo: Noah Feldman

From the British Empire’s efforts in the 19th century to document and control territories to Ansel Adams' conservationist agenda, pictures of landscapes have established narratives and swayed public opinion. For over 150 years, photographers have trained their eyes on the transformation of our wild spaces and helped dismantle a lot of our blind romance toward the West.

PCT thru-hikers follow in this long tradition. As they travel through California, Oregon, and Washington, the thru-hikers see the trail and the region from all angles. Having been on the trail for 11 weeks now, I've learned there are an infinite number of photo moments—to hike this trail is to track an almost overwhelming flood of epic visuals. It is, in fact, challenging to fit the journey and awesome landscapes into a series of frames. But some PCT hikers are up to the task. Here are my top seven thru-hikers who, via Instagram, show the most beautiful parts of the trail.


Earnest and loving, Wang is a master of landscapes and a sucker for portraits. Her food shots reflect every hikers' obsession with town food. Selective in her posts, Wang doesn't waste anyone's time and delivers a consistent visual mood. "I guess that's what happens when a wedding photographer does the PCT," she jokes.

Shining Moment 


Hikertrash at the summit emergency shelter on Mt. Whitney.

A photo posted by Karen K. Wang (@karenkwang) on


Ryan Musiello knows his way around a camera. From night photos to macro shots, every image conjures light, silhouette, and artistry.

Shining Moment


Bedtime in the Sierras. #thruhike #pct2016 #pct #pacificcresttrail #hiking #stars

A photo posted by Ryan M. PCT Thru-Hiker 2016 (@picturethetrail) on


These guys' pictures aren’t always the highest quality, but I love their mission: Cap and Spice want to save the wilderness by removing one piece of trash at a time. Hauling out junk that others leave behind and sporting John Muir-ish beards, these guys are heroes.

Shining Moment


Wilderbound revels in the vagabond vibe. Before the clean lines of the Sierra, she depicted the wind, dirt, and slog of the desert. There's hobo-chic echoes of Mike Brodie and Ryan McGinley here.

Shining Moment 


A photo posted by A y e s h a "Heaps" (@wilderbound) on


Shots from above the clouds, selfies that aren't crap, and stolen glimpses of friends, Nick "Click" Reichard's feed is a treat.

Shining Moment


With a sense for the absurd and dramatic, Fysh hams it up and celebrates the adventure. Campfire vibes, beardy friends, and town escapades. You just want to be his friend.

Shining Moment 


A photo posted by Lachlan Fysh (@lachlanfysh) on


This is a special shout-out to a hiker no longer on the trail. From day one, kukud83's images were my favorite. As a native of Taiwan, he brought an outsider's eye to the West. You'll have to scroll back a ways in kukud83's feed to find his many PCT shots (he's prolific) but the surprise, joy, and romance of his work make the time worth while. 

Shining Moment

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